Tour Down Under tech gallery: New bikes, shoes and custom components

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After months of watching riders toil around muddy fields in pursuit of a runners-up spot behind Mathieu van der Poel in cyclo-cross, cycling returned to smooth tarmac this week as the Tour Down Under kickstarted the men’s WorldTour season.

The first major race of the season is always a hotbed for the latest and coolest tech, with teams showing off their best equipment.

While it’s been fairly quiet over the last few months in the tech world compared to previous seasons, there was still plenty on show in Australia and we scoured the peloton over the first few stages to see what new and interesting tech goodies we could find.

All change at Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale

AG2R have arguably had the busiest winter of all as they gained new title sponsors in the form of Decathlon, which has brought its Van Rysel range of bikes on-board too. That’s bad news for BMC, with the Swiss brand dropping away from WorldTour level, but it’s a long-awaited return for Decathlon to pro cycling. Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale’s bike of choice for 2024 will be the Van Rysel RCR Pro, which made its WorldTour bow on the opening stage of the Tour Down Under. It hasn’t enjoyed too much success at the race so far, but there’s plenty of time to set that record straight.

Alongside their new bikes, the team is also sporting new wheels in 2024 from Swiss Side. In the latest example of cross-sport collaboration, the brand has drawn on its F1 aerodynamics expertise to design its range of HADRON Ultimate wheels in collaboration with DT Swiss.

Striking bike designs and custom components

While the Van Rysel RCR Pro looks fast, it also looks good, although it struggles to compete with some of the more eye-catching designs in the peloton. First up in the race for the best-looking bike is Alpecin-Deceuninck’s Canyon Ultimate, with its striking purple colourway. It’s a simple design but that doesn’t take away from what is a great look, and the paintwork only gets better the closer you get to the bike.

The Ultimate is Canyon’s lightweight climbing bike and Jason Osborne’s, pictured above, had some interesting custom tech, including these Elite Race Plus bottle cages which perfectly accent the colourway.

At the front of the bike, secured under the handlebar, the bike also had a 3D-printed mount which houses Osborne’s Wahoo computer.

Astana Qazaqstan’s Wilier Filante also caught our eye with its marble-effect design. More impressively than the attention-grabbing design, each colourway is unique. This is achieved through the process of applying the paintwork, although the differences are only subtle, so you may struggle to spot the differences between each bike.

There’s nothing subtle about EF Education-EasyPost’s bike for 2024. The American team has always been one of the bravest outfits when it comes to designing their bikes and kit and they’ve lived up to that billing once again with their 2024 offering which is hard to miss. It won’t be liked by everyone, but there’s no denying that they sure know how to go all-out.

If you’ve put so much effort into your bike’s designs, you might as well go the full hog. That was clearly the team’s thinking with these pink valve caps from Muc-Off. They’re only discreet but add another layer to the bike’s eye-catching design.

In sharp contrast to EF Education-EasyPost, Intermarché-Wanty have gone to the complete opposite end of the scale with their valves which don’t stand out at all. That’s not because they’re dull or have regular colouring, but because there aren’t any valves at all. It’s not a magic trick but a unique design by Newmen, who provides the team’s wheels. Rather than using a common presta valve, a schrader version is hidden within the wheel. The only giveaway is a small flap that covers the hole through which the valve can be accessed. It’s not new tech and has been around on the brand’s wheels for a couple of years, but it’s still unique within the WorldTour peloton.

New tech from Bontrager and Look

Intermarché-Wanty’s Cube Litening Aero C:68X bike proved to be a treasure-trove for new tech. Beyond the wheels, it also sported what appeared to be new Look Keo Blade pedals. The main giveaway is the metal plating where the foot meets the pedals, which is now split into three sections but only consists of one on the current model. Along the side of the pedal, where a cap used to cover the outer end of the axle, there is now a smooth edge.

There was more new tech on show at Lidl-Trek in the form of what we believe are an as-yet unreleased set of Bontrager shoes, modelled in these pictures by Jacopo Mosca. The knitted-construction, which makes them unique within Bontrager’s shoe line-up, should make them lightweight, suggesting that they’ll be angled more towards climbing. An ‘RSL’ logo is emblazoned on the tongue, which is the name used for many other products within Bontrager’s range, including for certain wheels and handlebars.

Stand-out bike tech

Returning to Intermarché, whose Cube steeds lured plenty of our attention, partly thanks to the mighty stem we encountered on Biniam Girmay’s bike. Designed in-house by Cube specifically for the Litening Aero C:68X, the stem, named the ICR Aero Cockpit System, is as wide as the top tube and almost as deep. You’ll struggle to find a more colossal stem in pro racing.

Over at Ineos Grenadiers, we found these K-Guard chain catchers on their Pinarello Dogma F bikes. Chain catchers aren’t new but have become increasingly popular over recent seasons and most teams now use them. As the name suggests, they offer an extra level of protection against the risk of a chain dropping off the inside of the chain rings.

The UCI has strict rules that have to be adhered to, so it was no surprise when Bianchi’s latest Oltre bike fell foul of them in 2022 thanks to its Air Deflector wings. Attached to the head tube, these were essentially aero fairings which are banned from the pro peloton. Luckily the Italian brand was prepared for such a situation and removed them, but there are still noticeably bumps left on either side of the head tube which presumably provide some aero advantage, like on the Arkéa-B&B Hotels bike above.

Bike set-up matters

We’ll end with a reminder that you can have the best tech in the world but if your bike isn’t set up correctly, you’re going to run into problems. This was expertly displayed by UAE Team Emirates’ Alessandro Covi who recruited a tape measure to check that his Colnago V4Rs was set-up to his liking, much to the amusement of the team’s mechanics.

GCN’s Alex Paton was also out in Adelaide for the Tour Down Under. Check out his video below for more of the hottest tech from the first race of the WorldTour season.

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